Eddie Howe has admitted he will never be able to bask in glory no matter what he achieves at Newcastle.
The 45-year-old has guided the club to the brink of Champions League qualification in his first full season in charge.
A win over Premier League strugglers Leicester at St James’ Park on Monday will be enough to seal a top-four place.
But even ending a 20-year wait to return to the big stage, at the end of a campaign which also included a first major cup final appearance since 1999, would not satisfy the Magpies’ head coach.
Asked if that was just the way he is, Howe said: “Unfortunately, yes, which means you’re on sort of a conveyor belt that you can’t get off.
“Everyone will say: ‘That’s a great achievement’. All I can think of is that next challenge coming and then being prepared for that next challenge because you can’t sit back and say: ‘Right, I’m going to take a month off and go and relax on a beach’.
“It’s the opposite, it’s: ‘Okay, how can we best now succeed in that next phase?’ So it is very much you’re always on a cycle of trying to improve.”
Newcastle’s rise since Amanda Staveley’s consortium completed its takeover in October 2021 has been meteoric and, while the Saudi-backed owners have ploughed more than £250million into the playing squad, the impact made by Howe and his staff has been remarkable.
A unity of purpose has been fostered through the club, and the former Bournemouth boss revealed Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi remain very much at the centre of that.
Howe said: “I invited Amanda and Mehrdad up to speak to the squad, I think it was 10 days ago roughly, just to have that contact with them, with the owners because it’s so important as a club we’re one from top to bottom.
“They came in, they spoke to the players, they were absolutely brilliant. It was a nice moment, actually, just for everyone in the room to consolidate their thoughts on each other and then try to focus on the last few games that we had, and it made a positive impact on us.”
ONE STEP CLOSER. 🙌
HOWAY THE LADS! ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/SzXpTxkn81
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 18, 2023
Should Monday pan out as Newcastle hope, the focus will switch to summer recruitment in preparation for a challenge which will have arrived unexpectedly quickly, although Howe is realistic about what Staveley and her partners will be able to do.
He said: “Regardless of what happens, we’re not going to have a bottomless pit. We will be under tight constraints. Whatever we do in the transfer market, we’re going to have to be very smart.
“In the three transfer windows I’ve had, we’ve been excellent and we have to continue that.”